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Ex-Apple engineer says new Apple TV UI rejected by Jobs [U]

updated 11:40 am EDT, Sat March 24, 2012

Former Apple staff contends idea rejected

(Update: Margolis contextualizes) Former Apple TV engineer Mike Margolis has claimed that the new Apple TV interface was actually a previously rejected idea. He claimed that they had been "tossed out" five years prior in favor of the text-heavy design, as "SJ [Steve Jobs] didn't like them." Although only one designer had been directly responsible for user experience, a wider overhaul of the larger staff and a lack of Jobs' oversight led Margolis to think Apple had lost a necessary level of restraint.

"Now there is nobody to say 'no' to bad design," he argued.

The claims aren't likely to get confirmation from Apple and are at least partly a matter of opinion. Some have contended that the new Apple TV interface is meant to be easier to understand and, in some cases, helps reach certain interface elements faster. Speculation has also been raised that it's early preparation for an Apple TV platform with third-party app support, although the lack of significant permanent storage on current Apple TV boxes makes it more likely to focus on future firmware-based apps such as a possible Hulu Plus.

Jobs was often known for having made top-level decisions as to whether interface elements worked. However, most of the work and overall design approval even during his era came primarily from immediate management.

Update: Margolis used a follow-up response to TechCrunch to clarify his results. Jobs rejecting an idea wasn't "a huge deal," he said, as it wasn't uncommon for him to initially dislike a concept until it was modified and he came to appreciate it. He also acknowledged that the Apple TV interface he preferred had prefaced the popularity of iOS, and the new interface made more sense in the context of the iPad and iPhone.

"Steve was well known for rejecting ideas, tweaking them, and turning them into something even better," Margolis said. "And that's a very good thing. One of my favorite parts of working at Apple was knowing that SJ said "no" to most everything initially, even if he later came to like it, advocate for it, and eventually proudly present it on stage. This helped the company stay focused and drove people to constantly improve, iterate, and turn the proverbial knob to 11 on everything." [via Macgasm]

By Electronista Staff


    Comment buried. Show
  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    Apple is doomed!

    your comment

    Comment buried. Show
  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: May 2001


    Not doomed to failure...

    But doomed to becoming a very large, mediocre company like Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, and all the rest who currently wait for Apple to do something before they jump in with their copies. It will be interesting to see who becomes the next Apple, if at all.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004


    Same response.

    So short AAPL.

  1. Pixelsmack

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2010


    The new ATV GUI sucks.

    You can't tell what is highlighted since the selection color is DARK BLUE AGAINST BLACK. The tiles are too big and tight together. It's a cluttered mess.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2009


    the key word is "Ex"

    You're always going to get comments like this from ex-employees. The new GUI is different, I like the old version better, but I can still use the new version just fine. If enough people complain and Apple finds the new GUI is problematic, I see them changing to something else. Whether you agree or not, Apple does try to do what works for consumers.

  1. Delphin Apterus

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2012


    comment title

    You have to admit, it's the ugliest I've seen from Apple the last few years ;-)
    But the technology behind it remains great.

  1. jmonty12

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2003


    Steve wasn't perfect

    It's possible that what this ex-employee is saying about Steve rejecting this design is true. But Steve Jobs wasn't always right about everything. He always refused to make a mouse with two physical buttons, was he right about that? I don't think so. And don't even get me started about Mobile Me.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008


    Mobile Me

    Jobs was very unhappy with what the Apple engineers came up with on that.
    He wasn't wrong about the 2 button mouse... I never needed it. I have one now and it's fine but it wasn't necessary.
    There is no way to tell, in advance, what might be in the right button, because it is different with different apps.

  1. SwissMac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2006


    Wrong picture

    I think you've got the wrong picture, that's the interface for Microsoft's Metro Apps.

  1. SwissMac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2006



    Gotcha! Actually, it's just as ugly as the Metro interface. The old text based version was much clearer and cleaner.

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